Learning to Fly on Foils

The Waterlust team learns to fly on foils off the shore of Miami.

February 8, 2017
in Sail

Even in the years long before the Wright brothers first learned to fly in Kitty Hawk, mankind has been working to find ways to go faster and further; to fly high with the birds and to dive down below with the fish.

In sailing and watersports, the introduction of hydrofoil technology has allowed athletes to fly above the water through the use of foils that are rigged to the bottom of the vessel. Foils push and pull water in a highly-engineered way to create upward propulsion – sending SUPs, kiteboards, wakeboards, and sailboats flying high above the water.

Using a foil from GoFoil, Waterlust was able to transform one of their boards into a fully functioning hydrofoil. The crew wore the new SPERRY 7 SEAS while on the boards to gain an advantage.

Foils are currently being used on the latest class of America’s Cup yachts in an effort to drive the sport forward. Onboard the AC45, athletes work to manipulate wind, water, and waves and aim to harness the boat’s power by using hydrofoiling technology to lift their yachts several feet of the water, to the point where boats seem to hover or fly.

Hydrofoils are changing the pace of watersports dramatically, so we asked Waterlust to try it out and sent them on a mission in Miami to find out how foils work. By building a hydrofoiling SUP, their team was able to fly above the water and experience the sensation of soaring above the waves in the wind while wearing the new Sperry 7 Seas.

Watch the full-length video below and check out photos from their adventure.

Hydrofoils reduce drag by lifting the flat surface of the board well above the water. The foil works below the waves to create upward lift and allows the board to charge forward through the waves. Here, Jennah Caster flies over the water while in tow behind the boat.

Speed, balance, and firm footing are essential in trying to stand up on a hydrofoil. The crew quickly learned that if you are not standing in the perfect position on the board, the foils won’t be able to lift you out of the water.

Traction pods, drainage ports, and the quick-drying mesh on the new Sperry 7 Seas helped to give Waterlust a bit of an edge as they learned to foil.

As a science-focused collective of marine biologists and PhD students, the team from Waterlust also filmed a behind-the-scenes story explaining how they were able to use a hydrofoil to fly above the water.

To learn more about the science behind hydrofoiling, watch the video below for a short explanation from UMiami PhD student Patrick Rynne.


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